So for the past year-and-a-half I've been working out of a co-officing space across the San Antonio River from our original office at the Pearl. It's been a good office and the shared working environment has for the most part been a really good experience. It has become somewhat less-than-ideal recently (a particular office-mate is obnoxiously loud and has a dog who like to poop in other people cubicles) and so as of January 1, HiWorks will have a new home. But that's another blog post for another day.
One of the advantages of working in a variety of different office buildings is that it allows you to experience a variety of different types of office spaces. In my current office I work under a large "barrel-vaulted" roof. It's actually three conjoined Quonset huts that were probably bought as military surplus and relocated to their current location sometime after World War II. A Quonset hut by itself is a fascinating piece of architecture. Designed to be quickly and easily constructed for a variety of different uses, these prefabricated structures combine an ancient form (the vault) with modern materials (steel and aluminum).
But even ignoring its backstory, a Quonset hut is a lovely space to inhabit. It's no coincidence that both century-old churches and modern museums use the same basic shape. Of course that form makes sense structurally, but the quality of the space it creates is quite remarkable. The space under a vault is both soaring and intimate; sublime and humane. Ceilings and walls merge together into a single welcoming spatial embrace. Although my particular vault has only a few windows, a warm gradient of light is projected onto its interior surface. That quality of light changes subtly over the course of the day. It is like being outside under the sky. It is like being inside of a cave.
I don't know that I'll ever have the opportunity to design a vault, but I certainly hope that I do.